Thursday, July 13, 2017

Secretive deregulation teams in administration include dozens with potential conflicts of interest

The Trump administration is creating teams to aggressively cut government regulations, and some appointees have deep ties to the industries they aim to deregulate, Danielle Ivory of The New York Times and Robert Faturechi of ProPublica report.

Since most government agencies aren't disclosing who has been appointed to their deregulation teams, the reporters investigated and identified 71 appointees; 28 have potential conflicts of interest. "Some appointees are reviewing rules their previous employers sought to weaken or kill, and at least two may be positioned to profit if certain regulations are undone," they report. "The appointees include lawyers who have represented businesses in cases against government regulators, staff members of political dark-money groups, employees of industry-funded organizations opposed to environmental rules and at least three people who were registered to lobby the agencies they now work for." Appointees can seek ethics waivers in order to work on issues in they may have a conflict of interest.
Two appointees to deregulatory committees may personally profit. (NYT graphic)
Agency responses to requests for records have been "denied, delayed or severely redacted," but the investigative team found ways around it. They went through 1,300 pages of guest sign-in sheets at the Interior Department and found that appointees met "regularly" with representatives from the oil and gas industry. Lobbying groups are peddling economic and legal analyses that they hope the short-staffed deregulatory panels will use to make decisions more quickly.

Here are a few of the appointees with potential conflicts of interest the Times and ProPublica discovered and the deregulation teams on which they're serving:

Agriculture: "Rebeckah Adcock was a senior director of government affairs at CropLife America, the trade association for pesticide manufacturers, where she lobbied USDA. Before that, she was director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation," where her portfolio included conservation programs.

EPA: "Samantha Dravis was general counsel for the Republican Attorneys General Association, president of its Rule of Law Defense Fund and an attorney at Freedom Partners, an organization of conservative political donors led by billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch, owners of a conglomerate that sells coal, gas and other products."

Energy: "Daniel Simmons was vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, a conservative think tank that has opposed efforts to limit greenhouse-gas emissions and that has received funding from the American Petroleum Institute and the Charles Koch Institute. Prior to that, he was a task force director for the American Legislative Exchange Council, an industry-funded model bill organization, and a research fellow at the Koch-funded conservative think tank Mercatus Center" at George Mason University.

Interior: "Scott Cameron founded and was president of a non-profit organization called the Reduce Risks from Invasive Species Coalition, which has received money from Syngenta, a pesticide company that has been lobbying the Interior Department, and other industry groups. He also worked for Dawson and Associates and worked as an advisor to several companies, including an Interior contractor. Before that, he was at Interior himself."
Interior: "Daniel Jorjani previously worked for groups connected to the billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch."

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